Boeing's 787 training involves more equipment than other aircraft types and is a likely precursor of what is to come with new aircraft designs. FFS operations are expensive, so to cut costs 787 student pilots use a Flight Training Device that faithfully replicates a cockpit like an FFS but does not include the costly hydraulic system used to simulate an aircraft's motion.
Computers also have become integral to mechanics training. Longacres has four interactive 787 desk-top training centers and two of those will be moved to Miami. The others will remain in Seattle, which also will remain headquarters for mechanics training on other aircraft types.
The timing for FFS moves for other aircraft families will depend on training schedules. There are a lot to move. By year-end, Boeing expects two 737 Next Generation FFSs and one FFS each for 717, 747-8, 767 and 777 aircraft to be moved and operational in Miami. Longacres also has a 757 FFS, but it is expected to be sold for parts.
They will join three 737NG FFSs, two for 737 Classics, and one each for the 757, 757/767 combo, 767, 777 and MD-11 in Miami, plus an Airbus A320 FFS for customers with mixed fleets. That leaves nine open bays awaiting the eight simulators coming from Seattle.
The shift will not affect pilot training for the 737-derived, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. The U.S. Navy trains them with an FFS at its Integrated Training Center in Jacksonville, Fla. The U.S. Air Force expects only a minor impact on training pilots for the KC-46 tanker, a 767 derivative. Pilots will receive 767 type training in Miami and finish with separate KC-46 mission systems training in Seattle. Neither program schedule will be affected, Boeing says.
Although full-flight simulators are expensive—Boeing says a 737 FFS costs about $10 million and the more complex 787 runs $20 million—many large carriers do their own training and outsource services to smaller carriers.
Flight Services has more than 500 employees, but fewer than 100 are directly involved in training. The company has not decided how many of these will be asked to relocate to Miami.
Last year, the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association, which has 104 members representing Boeing's training instructors, affiliated with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (Speea), the union that represents the company's engineers and technical workers. The announcement came as training pilots are negotiating their first contract. Many split time between instructing and ferrying aircraft to customers. Of the 104, Speea estimates about 30 will be affected initially by Boeing's move.
Speea Executive Director Ray Goforth says Seattle's engineers find access to the Longacres site convenient “to test things out.” Boeing responds that they can do their jobs using web-based electronic linkages through its “E-Cab” system.